Thursday, August 13, 2015

Medieval Magic and Munchies

During the lazy days of summer, particularly August in France, there is often a bit of extra time to catch up on the tasks and activities there is never a moment to spare for during the rest of the year. One of the things I have been wanting to do for a while now was visit the Musée de Cluny, the medieval museum in Paris. I have passed it quite often over the past couple of years, as it is nestled right in the heart of Saint-Michel. I even reference it as one of the sights to see when I give a nighttime walking tour centering around the Latin Quarter. The building itself looks like a small gothic castle, though after doing a minute's worth of research, I have discovered that it was originally the town hall of the abbots of Cluny. It is also surrounded by the Thermes de Cluny which are old Gallo-Roman baths and which you can view from the inside as well.

As I walked around the interior of the museum, I soon realized how small it actually is but also how many amazing pieces of art and artifacts it houses. The most famous exhibit, however, is the tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn, considered some of the greatest works of the middle ages. There are six tapestries in total, each representing one of the 5 senses. The final tapestry includes the words "À mon seul désir, which literally translated means "my only desire", though many believe the tapestry is meant to embody the ideals of love. Not only are they incredibly detailed and ornate works of art, but my reputation as a magical lover of all things unicorn required I experience them in person. It was definitely worth the effort and I spent several minutes observing the detail and drinking in the magic (at least for me) of the room. I ended up spending a little too much time in the gift shop afterward, something I am rarely interested in because I never want to spend money on cheesy souvenirs. But since too many were unicorn-themed, I had to take a minute to choose a few for my collection.

After the museum and despite the lingering humidity, I wanted to find a lunch spot in the neighborhood. Since I was in the 5th arrondissement, I decided to walk on over to Rue Mouffetard where there are many cafés and bars to choose from. In recent weeks I have actually witnessed a line outside a particular establishment that I have long since wanted to try. It is called "AuP'tit Grec and every time I pass it, the queue is flowing down the street for whatever scrumptious takeaway fare they offer. Apparently the crepes are to die for, so I waited my turn and ordered a massive galette, stuffed with raclette and jambon, potatoes, lettuce and tomato. It was massive, way too much to eat, and despite the fact that the ham I chose was apparently too tough to chew through, it was a throughly delicious and famously cheap lunch spot. I hope to hit a few more Parisian places before heading off to the South of France next week, but I doubt anything will compare with a traditional crepe and the enchantment of the unicorns.

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